News Leadership 3.0

December 08, 2008

Our new leadership report is out today!

KDMC offers a collection of tips, tools and takeaways from seminar experts for newsroom leaders in the digital age

The Leadership Conference is a highlight of Knight Digital Media Center’s annual training calendar. Newsroom leaders come to the center to hear from experts in digital media, innovation and newsroom change. They return to their newsrooms with strategies and ideas for moving online.

Today, KDMC is pleased to release a report compiled from the July 2008 Leadership Conference and an earlier leadership gathering in 2007. The report is organized as a series of lists and bullet points—tools, takeaways, quotes and action steps, for example—designed to spark new thinking among newsroom leaders and link them to resources that will help them develop their ideas.

I hope you’ll take a look at the KDMC Leadership Report. Here’s a sampling:

From Takeaways:

Stacy Lynch, a consultant and project manager for the Media Management Center, warns traditional news organizations against “the sucking sound of print” as they transition to online while attempting to maintain the newspaper.

“Print will take over every ounce of energy you have,” Lynch said.  The brutal truth is there’s nothing in print that has no value. Everything has a little bit a value. Every cut hurts. You just have to figure out what hurts less.”

From Tools:

Key performance indicators provide more meaningful information on site traffic than simple counts of visits or visitors. Dana Chinn, a faculty member at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism, details KPIs and their uses:

Often, that KPI is not a simple number such as time on site or unique monthly visitors. Instead, the most meaningful information may be from a ratio or comparison of two different numbers.

From Culture changers:

Change will only come from the bottom up. Command-and-control hierarchical systems of management have worked well for getting the daily paper out on time, but executive pronouncements do little to build long term change. The old structure burdens top editors with making too many small decisions instead of working on long term strategy. Perhaps more significantly, it discourages initiative - and possible innovation - from the ranks.

Also see Quotes, Reading, Action Steps

We envision a report that can grow and evolve as the challenges of newsroom leadership change. Please add your ideas in the comments.

September 04, 2008

Steps toward change

News organizations often find
culture at odds with innovation
Is your newsroom culture changing?

Here is a list of steps for making your organization more adaptive and innovative. It’s based on reporting by Lauren Hertel of the University of Florida from KDMC’s 2007 leadership conference, on my reporting from the 2008 conference and on work I did for “News, Improved: How America’s Newsrooms Are Learning to Change.” It’s an open list. I hope you’ll add your change strategies in the comments.

Steps to organizational change
Culture change is a key challenge for news executives. In conference discussions, these steps emerged as integral l to bringing change to traditional organizations.
1. Communication is critical to culture change. Unless leaders are clear and consistent in their message, the staff will be slow to come on board. Write a short elevator pitch spelling out two or three significant goals, make sure all senior editors are repeating it - several times a day.
2. Change will only come from the bottom up. Command-and-control hierarchical systems of management have worked well for getting the daily paper out on time, but executive pronouncements do little to build long term change. The old structure burdens top editors with making too many small decisions instead of working on long term strategy. Perhaps more significantly, it discourages initiative - and possible innovation - from the ranks.
3. Newsrooms must spread ownership of the Web site. Many organizations depend on a small cadre of web workers to maintain their websites and it seems more efficient in the short term.  But to build a Web culture, job assignments must give everyone a stake in the web.
4. Leaders must empower experimentation. In perfection-oriented news organizations, top executives must make it safe for staff to try new things, including some that fail. Editors must create teams focused on innovation that offer protection from daily production needs for creative groups.
5. Training is not option. Doing new things in new ways requires learning at all levels of the organization. But training must be strategic and reflect the needs and goals of the organization. It should include skills training as well as knowledge about how people use media and media business literacy.
6. Accountability is critical. From top editor and senior managers on down, each staff member must understand her role in meeting new goals and see rewards for effort and consequences for not trying.
7. Scaling newsroom projects is more efficient. Everything from multimedia to database creation must be planned for scalability, because one-shot projects waste precious resources without providing enough utility for readers.
8. Outsourcing is a viable option. Every new tool does not have to be developed in the news organization.  In fact, many off-the-shelf tools are perfectly suited to newsroom tasks and are inexpensive to use.
9. Staying competitive requires better coordination between the newsroom and advertising department. Innovation from the newsroom innovation is meaningless unless the other side of the building can sell it.
10. Look outside industry for inspiration. For too long newspapers have looked at each other for innovation.  It is time for fresh ideas, and many of them can be found in government, Silicon Valley, universities and other places.

August 21, 2008

Key performance indicators

Leadership report:
Analyzing numbers and ratios

This is one in a series of posts exploring key takeaways and tools from the Knight Digital Media Center’s recent conference, “Preparing News Organizations for the Digital Now,” and a follow up on yesterday’s post about the Web metrics presentation by Dana Chinn, a faculty member at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism,

An important takeaway from Chinn was the idea of the Key Performance Indicator for Web traffic.

Often, that KPI is not a simple number such as time on site or unique monthly visitors. Instead, the most meaningful information may be from a ratio or comparison of two different numbers. Chinn’s detailed report gives 12 examples of possible indicators:

Site health
1. Visits per unique visitor
2. Page views per visit

Driving traffic
3. Top entry and landing pages
4. Bounce rate
5. Conversion rate

Growth
6. Visitor frequency
7. Visitor recency
8. New vs. returning visitors
9. Most popular stories
10. Visits using internal search
11. Site exits after using internal search
12. Time spent during visits

Chinn has prepared a report, “Measuring Web Success in the Newsroom,” that gives details about each indicator on the list, including how to calculate it and how to make use of the results.

Here is one example: Visits per unique visitor

To calculate, divide the number of visits for a specified time period (say, one week) by the number of unique visitors for that time period.
An increase usually means users are coming more frequently. Frequency and recency indicators may give more detail.
A decrease usually means users are visiting the site less and becoming less engaged. There may be problems with content, design and navigation, refers from print or marketing efforts. Or new competition.

Related:
See previous posts about Chinn’s presentation here and here.

August 19, 2008

Web math for editors

Leadership report:
Getting smart about the numbers

This is another in a series of posts exploring key takeaways and tools from the Knight Digital Media Center’s Leadership Conference—“Preparing News Organizations for the Digital Now.”

Dana Chinn, a faculty member at the USC Annenberg School of Journalism set out to help newsroom leaders make sense of hits, visits, bounces, time on site, etc. Editors I have spoken with say they are looking at the numbers more and more, but often aren’t quite sure what they mean or what action they may suggest. Chinn gave editors a process for better understanding and using Web numbers.

For starters, Chinn encouraged editors to develop a Web analytics plan and gave them a road map for doing that:

1. Establish goals. These should be for specific audiences or sections, not Web site elements such as video or user-generated content. Define actions that will lead to each goal. Consider online and print together.

2. Define Key Performance Indicators (the metrics) for each goal and decide what you will do if an indicator goes up or down.

3. Benchmark. Set a starting point and set a goal for each indicator (moving it up or down) and establish a time period in which you want to reach each goal.

4. Implement.

5. Monitor.

According to Chinn, the most significant performance indicator may not be a simple number. Instead, Chinn says, a ratio between two numbers often produces the most insight. I’ll look at Chinn’s use of ratios next. You’ll find Chinn’s detailed report here.

How does your organization use Web analytics? What numbers tell you what you need to know? How have you used analytics to help you improve your site and your traffic? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Related: My earlier post about Chinn’s presentation.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Exploring innovation, transformation and leadership in a new ecosystem of news, by journalist and change advocate Michele McLellan.

Get in touch with Michele at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

More Leadership at KDMC:
Leadership Seminars | Annual Leadership Reports

Support is provided by:

John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

USC Annenberg School for Communication

McCormick Foundation

Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute

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